Morrone Comes Home As Invited Walkon

Although invited football walkon Sammy Morrone moved away from the Mountain State when he was in kindergarten, he always felt like West Virginia was his home.

"I was born in Fairmont, and my Dad's family is still there," Morrone explained to "We moved away when I was in kindergarten, because my dad got transferred. He worked for Philips Lighting, and they transferred him to Texas.

"West Virginia is still like home to me, though. My immediate family is the only family that isn't in West Virginia, and we still go back home for holidays and to visit."

As Morrone stated, it's not just his father's side of the family that has home ties to almost Heaven. His mother's family is even closer to WVU, and still lives in Morgantown. In fact, when Morrone travelled to visit for the Pitt game last November, he stayed with his grandparents in the University City.

Although he obviously knew everything about WVU, Morrone notes that he got "a special feeling" from the coaches and players on campus.

"West Virgina and WVU was a place where I felt comfortable," Morrone explained. "It wasn't just because I'm from there. The team seemed really close, and the family atmosphere was better there than anywhere else.

"WVU was just where I wanted to be - I enjoyed it there so much, on my visit. I got to meet all the players, and I really fell for it. And the coaches were great. Every single one of them."

Lest this sound like just a nice P.R. move by the coaching staff to give a guy from West Virginia a shot, it should be noted that Morrone had a distinguished high school career. As a 6-3, 225-pound tight end and defensive end, Morrone was a first team selection on both offense and defense to the all-district team as well as to the all-Red River Valley team, which covers schools from both sides of the famed waterway in both Oklahoma and Texas. Morrone also earned all-state honorable mention honors as a defensive end on the AP team and as a tight end on the Texas sportswriters' team.

With those types of credntials on his resume, Morrone received a number of offers from Division I-AA schools, as well as serious walkon interest from schools like SMU, Clemson, Arkansas and Missouri. And although it proved to be a bit tough to pass up scholarship money from some of the IAA institutions, Morrone had his heart set on becoming a Mountaineer, and followed that when he made his college choice.

"WVU kept in the most contact with me, but I heard from those other schools also," Morrone noted. "But, I've always wanted to be at West Virginia, so when the walkon offer came I didn't have any doubts."

As a walkon, Morrone didn't sign a national letter of intent, but he did sign a document that has been created by Coach Rodriguez and his staff especially for walkons. It's a "Document of Commitment" that invites the recipient to be a part of the Mountaineer football family.

"Coach Rodriguez sent a letter along with it, Morrone explained. "He told me about WVU's walkon program, and about how he was a part of it, so I know I'll get a fair chance to show what I can do."

The Mountaineers will also be getting a fine student in Morrone, who attracted interest from several Ivy League schools as well, including Dartmouth. He carries a 3.6 core GPA and has a 1260 SAT score, which obviously put him well north of the qualifying line.

Morrone expects to begin his career at WVU at tight end, and might also get a look at fullback. He notes that "I'll play wherever they want me to," and is very excited about the opportunity he has at West Virginia. Morrone says he expects to grow another inch or two, so another position could be in his future.

Typical of many walkons, Morrone describes his work ethic as his strong point.

"I give it everything I've got. It doesn't matter what the score is - my intensity stays the same and I keep fighting all the time," the transplanted West Virginian said.

Although he sounds ready to hop on the next plane to West Virginia, Morrone will actually come to WVU in July. He hopes to be in Morgantown and acclimated to the weight and summer workout program before football practice begins in August. And despite the distance from his home, Morrone notes that his parents are thrilled that he will be attending their alma mater.

"My parents are excited that I get to go where I wanted to go, and where I will have family around. That will give them one more reason to visit," Morrone said with a laugh.

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